Ogwen Font 8B for Pete Robins

06 August, 2012
Pete Robins setting up for the big move to the flat finger edge. © Ray Wood

In the boulder field to the left of Carreg Mianog, at just about the same level as the top of the crag, Pete Robins has added the first Font 8B problem to the Ogwen Valley. Isles of Wonder, from the name of Danny Boyle's opening show at the Olympics, takes a striking line up the right-hand side of the distinct large leaning block, to an easier finish.

The stand-up line has an obvious start, using an undercut at the base of a thin crack in the prow, that is so steep it's more like a roof. It's climbed using both sides of the arete for compression, with insecure heel hooks, to a crux throw for a flat finger hold on the lip.

The rain started the moment the crag was reached - the story of this summer. After sheltering under the problem for a while, Pete opted to make the most of his visit by covering the lip of the prow with a waterproof jacket and warmed-up by working the powerful compression moves on the steep underside of the prow.

Pete said: "Fortunately, most of the problem stays dry in the rain. It took a while to get going but the distraction of trying to reach under a waterproof to the hold on the lip wasn't helping. By the time I was ready to give it my best shot before leaving, I took the jacket away, which fortunately coincided with a break in the rain."

Reaching the flat finger hold from the start for the first time Pete was now committed to an unnerving thrutch not to fall off the much easier but soaking finish. Plenty of upper body contact for extra friction was required to pull-over.

Afterwards Pete said: "It felt 8B and about as hard as Louis Armstrong which is that grade. It's so good to finally get a project done this year and it's great that the Ogwen Valley has now got an 8B. Away from the Great Orme, the Llanberis Pass has one, as does Crafnant and the Lledr Valley. So they're not that common in Wales."

Isles_of_Wonder_OgwenPete Robins attempting Isles of Wonder in the rain and having to reach under the jacket for the hold. © Ray Wood

Pete added: "It's the perfect style for me. Burly compression and tenuous heel hooks. On my first session I could only do half of one move. In all it took around eight short sessions. A couple of months earlier I added Nut Stash to the same block taking the left arete at 7B+ from a sitting start."

Aside from Malcolm Smith's Pilgrimage in Parisella's Cave, which arguably warrants a F9a/+ grade as opposed to Font 8B+, 8B is as hard as it gets in Wales.

Neil Dyer discovered the Isles of Wonder block about four months ago when he was out running. Excited by his discovery of such a good quality problem but unable to make much headway on it, he posted photos of the project on Facebook, happy for anyone to try it.